Perhaps the most exciting thing about eCommerce is that it is an ever-changing world. The rate at which technology advances and consumer behavior shifts makes the path to selling your products full of possibilities whilst keeping you on your toes.
Before you reach that end goal of securing a sale, shoppers first need to discover your products. You have to not only ensure your products appear where your audience is but also implement actions in your store that will make ideal items easy to find.
In this article, we’ll dive into the trends defining product discovery today and let you know how you can make use of them for your Shopify store.
The State of Online Product Discovery
So how are consumers finding the products they desire in this day and age? According to Catalyst Digital, when consumers know what they’re after, product discovery is almost split equally between a retailer and a search engine. When they aren’t so sure, 62% will head to some sort of search engine.
Where shoppers begin product discovery when they know what they want (Source: Catalyst Digital)
Let’s take a moment to talk about the shoppers that come straight to an online store for inspiration. When they land on your store ready to find their perfect product, 43% will go straight to the search bar. This makes onsite search an important portal for product discovery.
For those traversing other online realms to find products, whilst search engines like Google carry favor, there’s a new player climbing the ranks. Social media is fast becoming a key platform for shoppers to discover items. In fact, 54% say social shopping allows them to find new products.
These behaviors are already impacting the way product discovery is being handled. As savvy eCommerce merchants, we need to react to these behaviors and refine the approach taken to aid product discovery. So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at the top online product discovery trends.
Top Online Product Discovery Trends
Smart Search & Smart Recommendations as a standard
With so many shoppers beginning their journey at the retailer’s search bar, an intelligent approach to search is becoming more commonplace.
Advancements in technology such as AI, machine learning, and natural language processing have paved the way for stellar search experiences. It’s now possible for consumers to engage with an onsite search bar that can predict the products they want to see with excellent accuracy.
Take a look at Red Dress’ search function. Just by typing in two letters, the tool knew we were likely after something Christmas-sy as it is that time of year. On top of that, there are tons of options to narrow down results right in the dropdown, plenty of visuals, and additional suggestions.
This is the epitome of smart search. A search bar that understands intent and offers results that are as close as possible to what the user is looking for. Search bars that can autosuggest, offer faceted search, aren’t sensitive to typos, make use of synonyms, and provide visual results right off the bat will bolster product discovery.
This type of search experience will be the one consumers favor thanks to how quickly they can discover relevant products. It’s also increasingly something shoppers expect as this functionality mirrors search engines such as Google.
What you can do
To equip your store with this intelligent search approach, you only need one thing: the Boost Product Filter & Search app.
This powerful tool uses your store’s data to provide relevant search suggestions with instant results that include product images. It’s also resistant to typos and can group similar words so finding products in your store is a breeze. Moreover, as this is also a filtering app, shoppers can easily narrow down their results right within the search bar.
Consumers becoming visual searchers
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so it comes as no surprise that images are beginning to drive the discovery process.
Modern shoppers crave to find products they see in their surroundings. In fact, 62% of millennials desire visual search over any other new digital shopping technology. That’s why platforms such as Pinterest are empowering shoppers to take an image-first approach to find what they desire. The platform has reported a staggering 600 million visual searches happening every month.
What's more, Pinterest has made it possible for brands to capitalize on this feature by enabling pins discovered by visual search to be shoppable. With 83% of Pinterest users purchasing from brands they find on the platform, it’s clear to see why businesses are turning to it to facilitate discovery.
(Source: Marketing Dive)
This preference towards image-based discovery has also seeped into eCommerce websites. Amazon, IKEA, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus are just a few of the top brands that have implemented visual search into their websites and mobile apps.
Visual search in the Neiman Marcus mobile app (Source: Shopify)
What you can do
A great starting point for merchants that want to harness the power of visual search is to get on Pinterest.
First, you’ll need to set up a business account on the platform. You’ll then need to download the Pinterest app which will allow you to install the Pinterest tag. This will link your Shopify account and products to your Pinterest account. Once you’ve done that, Pinterest users will be able to discover your products through visual search.
Social media as a discovery engine
One thing is becoming quite clear when it comes to discovery - social media is king. Social platforms are a key driver for product discovery, with 54% of consumers stating that social shopping helps them find new products.
This trend is being driven by younger shoppers with impressive numbers citing YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook as their primary discovery channels.
As a result, social platforms are adapting and morphing into discovery engines. Similarly to the shopping features of Pinterest, other social channels are implementing tools that facilitate and enhance product discovery.
Meta, for instance, can surface personalized ads with product tags based on shopping behavior and has an AR try-on feature. Live shopping is also on the up-and-up, empowering brands and influencers to present products in a more interactive way.
We’re now seeing brands take full advantage of social media discovery to the extent that it seems to be a key port for it.
MAC Cosmetics turned to Instagram for the launch of its Selena La Reina line of beauty products.
The brand promoted the products exclusively through Instagram Shopping. Using the Product Launch feature, it announced the release and allowed shoppers to preview the products as well as set reminders. MAC also expanded its reach by turning to celebrities, influencers, and makeup artists to create posts in the lead-up to the launch. The result? The entire product line sold out in 1 minute!
Korean hair care brand, GrowUs, also found great success using Instagram as a discovery tool. GrowUs tried out Instagram video ads with product tags to capture the attention of shoppers and encourage views. These ads garnered 1.7x more content views as well as prompting 3x more purchases.
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What you can do
If you haven’t already, we strongly advise that you create business accounts across the top social platforms. Take a look at and test the extensive features available to businesses to see which works best for your brand. All the major platforms can be seamlessly integrated with Shopify through apps, so getting your products out in the social sphere is a breeze.
For instance, the integration with Twitter allows your products to be displayed as product cards on your profile. On Facebook and Instagram, items in your product catalog can be synced to these social accounts. Doing so enables merchants to sell directly on these channels through shoppable posts and create social ads. Similarly, the TikTok integration gives you the power to sell via the platform, manage orders, returns, and payments, and create shoppable content.
When it comes to product discovery, a crucial aspect you need to take heed of is personalization. It’s a surefire way to ensure the right customers are finding the perfect products in your catalog.
Traditionally, businesses rely on customer data and customer data platforms to predict and surface the right items for individual customers. However, an increasingly popular tactic for driving personalized product discovery is the use of quizzes.
Rather than solely relying on AI algorithms to anticipate what shoppers want, quizzes let visitors have a sort of one-on-one experience. They can lay out their specific needs and wants from a product by answering a series of questions. Following that, they will be guided to the most suitable choices. This inevitably produces an extremely unique and personal product discovery experience.
Big brands such as Allbirds, Mavi, and Sephora are making use of this method of product discovery. The latter two seem to be placing great emphasis as it’s featured on their homepages.
What you can do
When building quizzes, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Ensure questions are relevant: think about your potential customers’ pain points to help you formulate questions that will ultimately present the ideal products. You also should limit the number of questions to no more than 5.
- Show progress: make sure there is a visual marker for how far respondents are in the quiz
- Draw attention to it: ensure that the quiz is easy to find on your website by placing it on the homepage. Also, let your customers know about it through social media posts and emails.
Mobile push notifications as a discovery tool
People are spending record-breaking amounts of time on mobile devices. Recent data indicates that globally, we are spending, on average, 4.8 hours a day on them. Moreover, more than half of all internet shopping traffic comes from mobile devices. This, undoubtedly, makes mCommerce a vital component in all aspects of the shopping journey.
As a result, brands have been brewing up ways to capitalize on mobile shoppers for product discovery. Particularly after being thwarted by the iOS privacy update. One workaround retailers are beginning to apply is push notifications.
Spurred by the increased use of mobile shopping apps, push notifications have presented a new avenue to show consumers the products they’ll love. They’re especially effective because an overwhelming majority of customers are open to them, and personalization is very easy to achieve.
Take H&M as an example. By utilizing customer purchasing data, it’s able to lead shoppers to new products that are a perfect match for them.
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What you can do
Don’t sleep on the power of mCommerce. Capitalize on the growing inclination towards mobile shopping apps and equip your Shopify store with one. Once you have that, you can start creating impactful push notifications that drive discovery.
For your push notifications to be beneficial to both your business and your customers, you’ll need to:
- Personalize: data regarding each user's shopping behavior and preferences will be right at your fingertips. Stray away from generic, one-size-fits-all notifications and instead leverage data. Take a look at their browsing history and previous purchases to gauge the products they have the most affinity for and show them that.
- Perfect your timing: sending notifications at inconvenient times or too often is going to be a major turn-off. Instead, aim to be in sync with each individual user’s habits. Send push notifications out to your customers during the times they’re most active on your app. Also, limit the number of push notifications to no more than 3-5 times per week.
- Lead with offers: the key reason customers want push notifications is to gain access to sales and offers. Thus, it’s a good idea to combine promotions with product discovery. This doesn’t have to be every single time you push product discovery, but you could try to do it weekly with customers who haven’t been active in over a week.
Build your own bundles
The concept of bundling isn’t a totally new concept. It's the way of implementing product bundles that get innovated.
Some retailers are giving their customers the chance to curate their own bundles. In this scenario, store visitors can choose from a selection of products to create their own set. Store owners are able to dictate which products they wish to promote for the DIY bundles, thus, aiding in product discovery.
Fashion brand, M.M. LaFleur, regularly curates and updates capsules featuring products they want to introduce shoppers to. When two or more items are purchased from the capsule, customers receive 15% off. HVMN offered mix-and-match bundles where customers could choose their own flavors of their MCT oil powder or Keto Collagen+.
What you can do
DIY bundling can work really well in leading shoppers to products they may not have found naturally. It can also encourage them to purchase more items than they intended if you combine products well.
So, use data to figure out what items are frequently bought together and use that to guide the products for the DIY bundle. Another option is to use bundles to drive sales of some stagnant or surplus products. If you take this approach, apply a nice discount to them when bought in a bundle.
Level Up Your Product Discovery Experience
Technology and changing shopping habits are altering the way people can discover products. Shoppers are after more personalized and engaging ways to find products, and technology is allowing e-merchants to give them precisely that.
Keeping up to date with changes in the eCommerce sphere will ensure you deliver the experiences shoppers yearn for. Moreover, when you nail product discovery, you’ll bring the right products to consumers wherever they are. With these two capabilities fully grasped, you’ll ultimately create loyal customers that increase your revenue. Result!
Which of these product discovery trends are you excited to try?